Auditor praises Tangipahoa schools

The Tangipahoa Parish school system received an unqualified opinion, the highest possible, on its annual financial report for 2011-12 despite having a few issues in the district’s reporting procedures.

Accountant Donald Wheat, with Mandeville accounting firm Carr, Riggs and Ingram, said the three issues noted in the audit were a material weakness in reporting capital assets, a budget variance greater than 5 percent in the district’s magnet special revenue fund and misreporting employee experience levels by one year after a pay freeze.

The asset reporting problem amounted to a $2.6 million adjustment and was “the biggest issue,” but it has been completely resolved, Wheat told the School Board on Tuesday night.

The budget variance in the magnet special revenue fund was 5.3 percent, edging higher than the permissible 5 percent because of a number of large purchases made at the end of the year, too late to catch in time, he said. District records indicate this has not been an issue in prior years, he said.

Likewise, the misreporting of employee experience levels was an unintentional mistake, but one that must be reported, he said.

“Overall, this is a really well-run system,” Wheat said.

This was Carr, Riggs and Ingram’s first year performing the school district’s audit. Harris CPA, of Baton Rouge, had been the district’s independent auditing firm for the past 18 years.

Other business before the School Board included:

MAGNET CONTRACT: The school system will hire educational consultant David K. Lerch, of Savannah, Ga., to write the district’s Magnet Schools Assistance Program grant application for the 2013-16 cycle.

The district’s magnet programs are in their third year of a three-year grant cycle, Superintendent Mark Kolwe said, and Lerch’s services could help the district acquire much-needed funding to maintain the programs in future years.

HAMMOND PROGRAM: The board unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing the Hammond High Magnet School’s efforts in pursuing authorization as an International Baccalaureate school and for the Diploma Programme, and committing to identify funds to maintain it.

The resolution formally recognizes the success of the school in “increasing enrollment, increasing student achievement and increasing participation and enthusiasm among all stakeholders.”

“The district hopes that this effort will serve as a model to develop similar partnerships to support other quality neighborhood schools,” the resolution states.